Turkey, Iran and Iraq launch first joint anti-PKK operation

Turkey carried out airstrikes on PKK positions in Iraq’s Asos region. (Google Maps)
Updated 30 November 2017

Turkey, Iran and Iraq launch first joint anti-PKK operation

ANKARA: Turkish jets carried out airstrikes on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions in northern Iraq’s Asos region in coordination with Iraqi and Iranian intelligence on Monday, according to pro-government media reports in Turkey.

A Turkish General Staff statement said that the airstrikes with 30 fighters aircraft were launched in a region located 180 km south of the mountainous border with Turkey.

During the operation, which was supported by airborne warning and control planes, 41 targets were demolished, including tunnels and shelters used by the terror group, the statement said.

The Kurdistan Regional Government's referendum on Sept. 25 on independence from Iraq united the three countries in a common perception of threat. Following the Kurdish vote, Iraqi and Turkish forces conducted joint military drills on their shared border.

Ankara is concerned that the PKK may exploit a power vacuum in northern Iraq. Sharing intelligence for cross-border operations against the outlawed PKK is especially important in winter when terrorists seek refuge in northern Iraq’s mountainous regions, rendering operations difficult and dangerous, according to experts.

“Such a first-ever trilateral intelligence sharing will contribute a lot to Turkey’s anti-PKK terror operations,” Abdullah Agar, a security expert and retired special warfare and commando officer, told Arab News. "With this operation, we have seen Turkey produce an impact in a region 180 km away from its borders thanks to cooperation with central Iraqi and Iranian authorities.”

“This cooperation in identifying the locations of PKK targets and marking their coordinates is expected to grow further in the coming period,” he said.

Agar noted that this tripartite cooperation also shows a determination by the Turkish state to achieve a military equilibrium on multi-fronts to compensate for its deteriorating relations with the US, which traditionally provided Turkey with intelligence on PKK hideouts in northern Iraq.

In a series of operations across Turkey and northern Iraq during October, 152 PKK terrorists were killed and 129 hideouts were destroyed.

Ali Semin, a Middle East expert at the Bilgesam think tank in Istanbul, told Arab News that Turkey’s latest anti-PKK operation succeeded because Iran and Iraq have been intelligence sharing.

“It was just the beginning of these three countries boosting their counterterrorism cooperation in the near future. A joint operation with aerial attacks against PKK headquarters in northern Iraq’s Qandil and Sinjar mountains may be expected in early 2018,” he said.

According to Semin, as Tehran became isolated in the region because of international sanctions, it felt obliged to form a coalition with the Turkish and Iraqi central governments to preserve its regional gains.

“The region needs a collective security cooperation to defeat separatist Kurdish rebels active in these countries,” he said.

The PKK and its Iranian offshoot, Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), have been waging an insurgency against the Turkish and Iranian states, and both countries consider Kurdish separatism a common threat.

Arab anger over ‘theft of occupied Golan Heights’

Updated 26 March 2019

Arab anger over ‘theft of occupied Golan Heights’

  • Israel seized part of the Golan during the 1967 Six-Day War, subsequently annexing it in 1981
  • US President Trump officially recognized Israel's sovereignty of the Golan Heights on March 25, 2019

JEDDAH: Arab states on Monday condemned US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

The decision “does not change the area’s status” as illegally occupied territory, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said.

Breaking decades of international consensus, Trump signed a proclamation at the White House on Monday recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the border area that Israel seized from Syria in 1967. 

Syria said the decision was a blatant attack on its sovereignty. 

“Trump does not have the right or the legal authority to legitimize the occupation,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Opposition chief Nasr Al-Hariri said Trump’s decision would “lead to more violence and instability, and it will have negative effects on efforts to engineer peace in the region.”

Lebanon said the move “violates all the rules of international law” and “undermines any effort to reach a just peace.”

“The Golan Heights are Syrian Arab land, no decision can change this, and no country can revisit history by transferring ownership of land from one country to another,” the Foreign Ministry said.